Divilly taking sensible approach with UCD stars juggling college and county commitments

JOHN DIVILLY IS in the saddle long enough to know that overworking his players this time of year won’t do UCD’s Sigerson Cup chances much good. 

Most of the UCD squad are part of county panels all over the country and working under a different set of rules with inter-county football trialling experimental rule changes. Divilly made the decision not to train collectively over the Christmas period, as he tends to do each year.

It’s clearly a strategy that works. The Galway man was at the helm as UCD ended a 20-year wait for the Sigerson Cup in 2016 and they added a further title 11 months ago.

The reigning champions had their first game together since November yesterday, recovering from a seven-point deficit to beat CIT in Belfield by 13 yesterday.

“It’s the same as every year. It’s no different. We know what it is,” said Divilly.

“It’s just started a week earlier than normal. The lads are back in college officially next Monday. Every manager is different and every college does it differently. 

“I didn’t bring the lads back because it’s not fair on them to be asking them to travel up the road when they’re all over the country,” the two-time All-Ireland winner added.

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“So you just rely that these guys are going to be fit, strong and it’s our job then when we get them to gel them together and try play an attractive brand of football that will win games.”

UCD manager John Divilly.

Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

The 20-point swing, after the hosts tightened up at the back and started breaking through for goals at the far end, was no major surprise given the lack of time the squad have spent together recently.

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Divilly knows UCD have a lot to work on if they’re to lift their third title in four years next month. 

“Our guys are fairly rusty I would say,” he said. “First day out on the pitch really since November and they’re not back in college yet, so it’s going to happen like that.

“But Cork IT are an exceptional side and they’re not out of the competition. They’ll definitely come back in. They’re going to be a hard team for whoever has them next.

“They scored ten points and they were great scores, but we probably showed them too much respect. We stood off them.

“They were winning all the breaking ball around the middle of the field and their shot selection was superb. They fully deserved their seven-point lead at the time.

“They just ran at them and were fortunate. One goal was a lucky goal and the second was a great finish by Conor McCarthy. You just have to stay in these games and keep plugging away. We were happy enough at half-time, just being down by two.

“Once we drew it back level, we knew the scores were in us, but it’s another thing just to put them on the board. We’re just relieved to get out of here today with a victory.”

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